Career Moves: Relationship with SPDC mentor aids in securing two internships in nation's capital
Unsure how to find an internship opportunity, Elon University senior Steven Armendariz ’17 found that having someone to consult about the future made his internship hunt easier — and he gives much of the credit to the Student Professional Development Center.
A political science and international and global studies double major from Charlotte, N.C., Steven Armendariz ’17 was searching for internships that would complement his course of study at Elon. With the help of the Student Professional Development Center, Armendariz became increasingly passionate about working with foreign countries through his work as an intern for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and then the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Office of the Western Hemisphere.
After graduating in May, Armendariz headed to Spain where he will spend a year teaching English through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program, a federal effort that builds goodwill between the United States and people of other nations.
Armendariz is the latest person to be featured in a series of profiles on the recent experiences of students and alumni who use the Student Professional Development Center to not only find job and internship openings but to find opportunities that fit their passions and skillset.
Steven recently answered questions from the SPDC about his experience.
Who did you work with the Student Professional Development Center to prepare for your internship, and what help did you receive?
I worked with Pam Brumbaugh as I prepared for both of my past internships. Pam and I first met my sophomore year and ever since then, we have formed a great relationship. She helped me from the first phase of finding the ideal internship that fits my passions and skillsets to finalizing all the proper arrangements when moving to and living in Washington, D.C.
Pam was especially helpful in supporting my scholarship pursuits and maximizing the amount of support I received. Washington, D.C. is an expensive area. Therefore, it was Pam’s incredible support and understanding that made interning there a possibility. Pam’s attention to detail and genuine love for helping students inspired me to work hard and improve. I am happy to call her a mentor and a friend.
Tell me about the organizations you worked for and your role as an intern.
I first worked with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency the summer after my sophomore year. This independent U.S. government agency helps create business opportunities for U.S. companies to capitalize on global infrastructure opportunities. Throughout my time interning, I appreciated the hands-on experience and being treated as an equal, which was demonstrated by the trust and responsibility my superiors gave me.
My junior year I went back to Washington, D.C. to intern for the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration’s Office of the Western Hemisphere. This office supports efforts by U.S. companies to gain greater access to markets in the Western Hemisphere and works to create more opportunities for U.S. businesses. Feeling welcomed and supported had a positive impact on my success during this internship.
How did your interest in these internships develop?
Through my majors in political science and international and global studies, along with my study abroad experience with Semester at Sea, I became passionate about the international community and working within this realm. Therefore, I began to search for internships that would allow me the opportunity to work with foreign countries focusing on the Latin American and Caribbean region.
I further narrowed my search by deciding I wanted to work for the U.S. government. I feel that by working for the government, I am helping ensure that the U.S. is a successful actor within the international arena. I am able to give my perspective and ideas on tackling various international topics. It is important to have professionals of all backgrounds work in the government to be able to have as much representation and diverse array of viewpoints as possible.
What did you learn from the experiences?
Through both internship experiences, I learned it is vital to be flexible when working with the international community and working in government. Also, each internship taught me about global business, trade and foreign policy, and the challenges the U.S. and companies face when working abroad. I bolstered my communication, research and analytical skills.
These are skills I utilized during my time at Elon and continue to use after graduation. I am grateful for these experiences, and the valuable knowledge I gained that will help me succeed in my endeavors.
Which faculty members did you work with to prepare and what help did you receive?
I worked with Professor Chalmers Brumbaugh when preparing for both of my internships. He was my internship advisor that gave me advice on working with the government and different possibilities to intern for various sectors in the international field. Chalmers is an incredible mentor who has always been there for me when I needed some assistance. He has helped me discover and develop the skillsets I now have.
Many other professors and staff members have supported me in achieving all my successes. I am thankful for all the support and encouragement I have received throughout my time at Elon.